- Researchers at University of California, San Francisco took the heart rates of 50 patients using an EKG and smart device at the same time and found the simultaneous heart rate readings identified a strong correlation between data captured on the two types of devices.
The study published in Nature's digital health journal analyzed smartphone data from almost 70,000 people in a larger long-term study, called Health eHeart, to identify real-world norms for heart range values collected by digital health devices.
Authors said it was the largest analysis of real-world heart rate data remotely obtained and stratified by demographics and medical conditions. The study authors said it "may help physicians interpret and engage with patients presenting such data."
The emergence of consumer devices that track heart rate in the real world has created challenges for physicians. Patients want physicians to help interpret heart rate data collected by their devices. However, the devices and settings used in the collection of digital health data differ from those used by physicians, creating the risk confounding factors will lead to misinterpretation of the results.
"If you present this data and bring in your device and say 'here, I have this heart rate data from the last month,' we're going to say, 'that's great, but we don't know what it really means,'" Karl Poterack, Mayo Clinic's medical director of applied clinical informatics, told a HIMSS panel earlier this year.
After validating the smart device data, the researchers analyzed values collected from the university's related 66,788 Health eHeart Study participants. The analysis used smart device data from the participants to show what range of real-world heart rate values is normal. If reliable, the ranges could help physicians assess whether smart device heart rate results collected and shared by a patient are a cause for concern.
One potential problem is that the smart device data captured in the Health eHeart Study may not be comparable to the results patients share with physicians. The Health eHeart Study asked users to download an Instant Heart Rate app from mobile health company Azumio to their Apple or Android smartphone and use it to periodically record their heart rate.
Collecting information continuously via wearable devices or even periodically using a different app may influence the results, the researchers noted, potentially making the ranges identified in the study a poor fit with real-world results from some patients.